NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly plane crash in Watauga County

Troopers identify pilot seriously burned in Watauga Co. plane crash

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the deadly plane crash last month in a wooded area of Watauga County.

The crash happened near Deep Gap on Hardin Road, about 10 miles northeast of Boone, according to officials.

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Investigators said the pilot, 67-year-old Danny Dunn, told state troopers he was "circling to land when his engine bogged down."

An eyewitness described seeing the plane and then hearing a loud boom before the accident.

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Deputies told Channel 9's Dave Faherty the pilot crawled from the wreckage and was found some distance away from the plane. Troopers said Dunn suffered burns to more than 70 percent of his body.

Dunn was then flown to Baptist Hospital. He later died.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said Dunn had taken off from his small airstrip in front of his home, which is a few hundred yards from where the plane went down and caught fire.

Nearby neighbors said Dunn flew for about 10 minutes before the crash.

"He just seemed like he went up and down, you know. He didn't seem like he had good control of it," said neighbor Bobby Seatz.

Another neighbor said something didn't seem right just from the sound of the plane.

"It was making a loud noise. We thought it was a single prop. We were talking about it me and my cousin, man it sounded pretty loud and kind of abnormal," said neighbor Treas Hanifan.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the wooded area where the plane went down but the tree canopy was so dense, we could not see the wreckage from the air.

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Officials have not said what led to the crash, which is under investigation. The pilot was the only person on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

No other information has been released.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.